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AFSCME Takes Big Step Towards Possible Strike

Members of Illinois government's biggest labor union have voted to allow a strike.  The margin was 81-19, though roughly 40% of AFSCME members chose not to vote or were not eligible.  Union director Roberta Lynch says her members do not want to strike. She says she hopes Governor Bruce Rauner will resume negotiating.

"If the governor tries to impose his unreasonable demands, he risks a strike that would shut down state government, and he alone bears the responsibility for the harm that strike would cause.”

AFSCME began negotiating a contract with Rauner more than two years ago.  The governor says the union ought to accept his final offer, which he calls fair to both workers and taxpayers.

About 30,000 AFSCME members are eligible to strike, a huge share of the Illinois government workforce.  Prison guards would have to remain on the job.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.